What is the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia? The symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are often very similar, which can lead to difficulties in diagnosing the right disorder. Consequently, it is not unusual for members of the public to confuse the two illnesses and mistakenly refer to one when in fact they mean the other.
What is the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia?
There are many differences between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and gaining a greater understanding of the two will help you to see that the disorders have very little in common with each other.
Around 1% of the population suffer from bipolar disorder (also referred to as manic depression), which makes it a fairly common mental illness. Bipolar tends to affect men and women equally and the symptoms usually appear in the late teens or twenties, although children are sometimes diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia is much less common in the adult population. Like bipolar disorder, the symptoms of schizophrenia usually begin to manifest in the late teens and early twenties, but unlike bipolar disorder, schizophrenia is more common in men than women.
What is the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia symptoms?
Although there are many similarities between schizophrenia and bipolar symptoms (which is why the two are often confused), there are also several crucial differences.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings and the person will typically go from being severely depressed to manically high—hence the term “manic depression”. The depressive episodes are can leave a person feeling sad, worthless, and suicidal. The manic episodes can leave the person buzzing with energy and they will often say and do irrational things. In severe cases, someone suffering from bipolar may also show signs of psychotic behavior, including hallucinations: they might hear voices or see things that do not exist.
The symptoms of schizophrenia include delusional behavior, hallucinations, and paranoia, and schizophrenia patients will behave in odd ways, which is where the confusion with bipolar disorder sometimes arises. Depression is also common in those suffering from schizophrenia and there is a strong risk of suicide as well as drug abuse if the patient attempts to self medicate.
What is the difference between schizophrenia and bipolar treatments?
Bipolar disorder can usually be treated and controlled with medication, although the manic episodes of the illness can be more difficult to control with medications. Schizophrenia is much more difficult to treat and people with schizophrenia do not always respond very well to treatment. They can also refuse to take their medication.
Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder can often lead normal lives as long as they are receiving treatment for their symptoms, but patients diagnosed with schizophrenia usually have problems functioning in normal society, which is why a large percentage of homeless people are thought to be suffering from schizophrenia as well as other serious mental health disorders.
In a lot of bipolar cases, episodes of depression and mania are interspersed with long periods of normality and the patient will appear to be perfectly well. Schizophrenia is different in that the symptoms are always present unless they are being controlled by medication, and if the person decides to stop taking their medication, their symptoms will return very quickly.